A lesbian couple in China are suing the Chimelong Safari Park after they were denied entry into the popular Guangzhou destination using a discounted couples ticket they had purchased. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the unnamed women were told by park officials the couples discount was valid only for a man and a woman. The women are also suing the online Chinese travel company Ctrip who sold them the tickets. Their case was accepted at court in Shanghai last week when the involved parties could not reach an agreement.
“I don’t want my girlfriend to think that being in a relationship with me means tolerating injustice,” one of the women said. “I want our love not to be discriminated against and for love in our community not to be overlooked.”
The couple purchased the discounted ticket through Ctrip for a visit to Chimelong on May 21, the unofficial Valentine’s Day in China. When they were denied entry at the front gate, they refused to buy two single tickets as directed and instead complained to customer service, who in turn referred them to the park’s administrative department.
“All the couples we know are a man and a woman,” the couple were reportedly told by park staff. The couple was also told they were a “special case” and should have done a better job of investigating the park’s policies prior to purchasing the discounted ticket.
The couple waited two hours for the park to honor their ticket before finally leaving. The couple said their repeated attempts to contact the park via social media have gone unanswered. They did receive a refund from Ctrip a few days after the incident, but nothing from the park. Ctrip has subsequently removed the discounted couples tickets for Chimelong from their travel listings.
The Post reported this was not the first time Chimelong has run into controversy over its discriminatory ticketing policies. A person reported in 2018 the couples ticket had a disclaimer that stated the ticket only applied to “one man and one woman.” At the time the park claimed it was tolerant and would work to improve policy regarding couples ticketing.
The couple’s lawyer, Zhong Wen, told the Post the contract between the couple and both Ctrip and Chimelong started the moment the discounted ticket was purchased. He also noted the park’s breach of contract violated a clause the prohibits discrimination against sexual minorities. He went on to say the lawsuit was a simple case on the merits, although he was unsure how the courts would rule.
“From an analytical legal point of view, I think it’s quite certain that Chimelong and Ctrip had broken their contract,” Wen explained.